Jon Johnson File Photo: Judge Travis W. Ragland sent a probation violator to prison for 2.5 years.
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – A man was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for his inability to stop using illicit drugs while on probation.
During last Tuesday’s law and motion proceedings, Graham County Superior Court Judge Pro Tem Travis W. Ragland saw a myriad of defendants who had petitions to revoke their probations due to illicit drug use.
After the previous defendant was placed back on probation with only a 30-day jail sentence, Ryan Thomas, 37, stood before Judge Ragland and asked to be given another chance on probation.
However, unlike with the previous defendant, Graham County Probation recommended prison time for Thomas due to the defendant’s inability to stay clear of illicit drugs despite numerous programs and rehab attempts.
Thomas previously took a plea agreement and pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a weapon by a prohibited person (brass knuckles and butterfly knife). The plea dismissed charges of possession of a narcotic drug and DUI. Thomas was already on probation for a guilty aggravated DUI charge from 2020 when the new charges in 2021 were filed. He also took a plea agreement in 2020 for possession of drug paraphernalia which dismissed a separate charge of possession of a dangerous drug. He has had multiple petitions to revoke his probation, and both the prosecution and probation department requested Thomas be sent to prison on the presumptive term of 2.5 years.
Graham County Deputy County Attorney Garet Kartchner handled the prosecution and Daisy Flores represented Thomas for his defense.
Kartchner argued that Thomas had burned through all his chances at sobriety on the outside and would now have to be incarcerated.
“Probation has worked very hard in trying to get the defendant help and each time the defendant has thanked them and told probation that he’ll do better and then turns around and tests positive,” Kartchner said. “So, I think based on the fact that probation just does not work for the individual right now some form of incarceration is necessary at this point to help the defendant on probation.”
Flores said Thomas had family support and was employed and requested reinstatement onto probation.
Thomas addressed the court himself and asked for another chance at rehab.
“The fact of the matter is I lack the discretion to make proper decisions when presented with difficult situations of everyday life,” Thomas said. “Drugs have been the way of me coping and dealing with problems in my life as long as I can remember. I know this is not the correct way to deal with life . . . Until now, I have not been man enough to admit my faults and shortcomings. I have not been brave enough to ask for help. Help that I know I need. I ask you today that I may be granted the opportunity to seek the help and receive it without any worries of denial. May you advance my wishes for a better way of living.”
Graham County Probation told the court that Thomas seemed sincere previously when he got out of prison but continued to fail drug tests despite saying he would work on his rehabilitation.
“This time, he is a poor candidate for probation,” his probation officer said.
Judge Ragland then sentenced Thomas to 2.5 years in prison to be followed by three years of standard supervised probation upon his release. Thomas was also given credit for 198 days already served.
“Mr. Thomas, I think you could be successful but I don’t know that you’re at the point yet where you’re taking this seriously enough to make sure that you’re taking care of the health issues and taking care of the other aspects,” Judge Ragland said.